It is not an exaggeration to state that the hill side agriculture owes its success to the doctrine of zero-budget. Only after the introduction of zero-budget in our State, many agriculturists, particularly from the hill sides, have not only taken up cultivation process in their areas but also thrived with comfort in terms of return on investment of their money, time and energy. One such successful agriculturists is Pandian belonging to Dindigul district. He grows banana, citron(narthai), lime, coffee and pepper in his 2 acre land and has been earning substantial profit from his operations. Pandian’s farm is situated in Sirumalaipudur which is a km away from Sirumalai which is a hillock in dindigul district. His farm which is in eastern direction from the village is reachable only by walk or by jeep.
Pandian originally belonged to Sitharevu village near Ayyampalayam in Dindigul district. He was working as a bus driver in the Government transport for about 30 years. He liked Sirumalai so much that he did not opt for any other route while in service. As he was criss crossing Sirumalai everyday he wanted to buy land there . He bought a 2 acre land 20 years back for Rs.30,000/. It is now worth Rs.30 L as per current market price.
Pandian admits that all his efforts in his farming operations were a fiasco because he relied completely on chemical farming practice. He started cleaning up the land in 2002 and planted banana with lime as intercrop. It was very expensive and he had to incur loss and the land became barren.
At this time only, Pandian came across Pasumai Vikatan wherein he happened to notice several articles on natural and organic farming practice and its value. He realized that he should give up chemical farming practice and switch over to organic farm to see successful results in his farm. Following this, he visited his friends’ farms also where they were following organic farming. Particularly, he got the introduction of Rajesh khanna who had met with success in his farm following the concept of zero-budget.
Diversified cultivation process:-
Pandian smartly launched his diversified cultivation process in his 2 acre land. Starting with Citron(kadarangai) (200 plants.) , he planted 200 lime plants also; both of them were country varieties. He planted mountain banana in between these. Next he put coffee plants wherever there was sunlight. Finally, he put pepper also in between drumstick trees and casurina trees. He had erected a well for drip irrigation through pipes.
Pandian further said that while under chemical farming, he used to require number of workers for various tasks but once he shifted to zero-budget, the need for manpower considerably reduced. He has one permanent person to look after the farm with whom he would also join on a daily basis to complete the daily routines. At the time of harvest he would hire people locally.
Pandian confirms that he would bring cow dung, cow urine etc. from Dindigul itself and prepare jeevamirdham in his farm. Herbal and bio insecticides and fish amino acid would already be available in his farm. On the counselling side, he has his friend Rajesh khanna and the Tandikudi coffee board scientist Sounndararajan would also give him advice whenever required. Above all, he practises what he sees in Pasumai Vikatan as a matter of routine and he is fully satisfied with everything.
Pandian further says that citron (kida narthai) gives yield from the sixth year. The kadarangai under his farm cultivation is now seven years old. While the last year’s output was fair, he feels that its output this year is considerable. While lime would start giving output from the 5th year, he has been getting the fruits for the past two years. Banana would give the returns from the 14th month itself. Pandian confirms that he gets returns from three plants only as of now. Coffee and pepper are still pending. The delay is partially due to prolonged heat which is rather unusual in Sirumalai. Some people have kept away from active farming practice because of too much of heat.
Pandian further mentions that many people wonder as to how his farm alone gets the produce like lime etc. despite so much of heat and others do not get that much. Pandian cites the genuine reason that the preparation of jeevamirdham and natural mulching done by him in his farm.
Yet another reason Pandian says is that in and around his farm one can hardly see the sand since the entire portion would be covered with mulching with dried leaves and plants with assured moisture and manure required for his farm.
Pandian confirms that he completely follows organic farming and zero-budget method as a result of which he does not have insect problem in respect of lime at all. He gets a good return even during non-season because he is able to market them on account of continuous availability. He further adds that he does not get any additional amount on account of the fact that he exclusively follows organic farming. But at the same time, the cost of production is comparatively less in his farm because of organic mode and hence he is able to get more returns & yield than others.
Out of 200 kadarangai plants, Pandian is able to get 5,000 kg.kadarangai @ 25 kg.per plant. Further he is able to sell them in the market @ Rs.50/- per kg and get a total sum of Rs.2,50,000/- in all. Similarly, from the stock of 200 lime plants, he gets around 50 sippam (65 kg per sippam) lime fruits. One sippam will fetch him Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000/- which would reach up to Rs.8,000/- at some peak time. Hence, he gets Rs.2,00,000/- from 50 sippams even if he sells at Rs.4,000/- per sippam. From banana, he is able to receive minimum Rs.10,000/- which means Rs.1,20,000/- per year from banana itself.
In a nutshell…….
Total income earned from his 2 acre land produce: Rs.5,70,000/-
Expenditure towards harvest expenses, transporta-
tion, market commission and other inputs : Rs.2,00,000/-
Net profit :Rs. 3,70,000/-
If he starts getting income from coffee and pepper also in future, his total income would be sizeable from his farm.
Personally sharing, it is sad that Pandian has lost his wife recently due to her sudden death. Pandian gets all the required consolation and relief only from his land. It is certainly appreciable that even after retirement from his 30 years of transport service, he is spending the evening of his life so positively and lucratively in his farm. He is all praise for the jeevamirdam which enables him to save considerable amount by otherwise not spending most of it on chemical insecticides.
Differences between chemical farming and zero-budget farming modes
Particulars Chemical Method Zero-budget Method
-------------- ---------------------- ------------------------
Manure expenses Applicable Not applicable
Manpower Required more Required minimum only
Insect attack Applicable Not applicable
Maturity & quality of fruit Fair Very good
Yield Only seasonal Throughout the year
Quality of soil content will diminish will increase
Mr.Soundarrajan Coffee board scientist shared with us certain points. He said ‘Pandian is able to receive good returns from his farm mainly because of the fact that he is following the organic farming procedure apart from his own innate passion and interest despite his personal problems. Normally, under organic farming method, the problem of insects will be comparatively less; moreover, the immunity will be increased to fight the insects. Another aspect worth implementing is that while we take out the fruits from any plant or tree, we indirectly deprive them of nitrogen, phosphorous, potash etc. from the soil. If we are able to replenish the same by some way, we will be able to increase the life span and the richness of the plants. Whatever plant, at the time of flowering, 100 grams of Asafoetida and 1 litre of fish amino acid must be mixed with 200 litres of water and sprinled on the plants , it will not only increase the flowering but also prevent flowers from falling onto the soil’’.
When it comes to hill side agriculture under organic method, Pandian’s experiments are really worth emulating to enrich a farmer’s practical experience.
(This article written by R Kumaresan in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 10th July 2017 has been reproduced in English by P S Ramamurthy)